Arts & Entertainment

Mike de Leon and Quark Henares Respond to Erik Matti's Plea to Save the Local Film Industry

The two filmmakers offer their own explanations.
IMAGE Instagram @erikmatti
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Erik Matti, the director behind BuyBust, On the Job, and Honor Thy Father, to name a few, shared "a plea for help" for the Filipino film industry on February 7, saying that "the state of our film industry, the business of it, is in a dire situation."Matti cites the poor box-office performance of recent films that have been released, including ones produced by mainstream studios and shown as part of the Metro Manila Film Festival. The director says that while he cannot pinpoint the exact problem, "we cannot go on making movies where no one sees them."

He adds, "Someone, somewhere, somehow, should do something about this." He ends his statement with a few questions, saying, "Are we really getting our films to the audience it was actually made for? Or are we just bringing them to the small audience we embarrassingly deserve?" Two other filmmakers—Mike de Leon and Quark Henares—have offered their answers.

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"Back in the day, you could pit a Ramon Revilla film head to head against a Clint Eastwood movie. Economies of scale just doesn't allow that anymore."

On Citizen Jake's Facebook page, de Leon says, "My two cents: With the rising prices of food and gas, cheaper cellphones, or the deteriorating political situation, maybe your local audience has more important things to think about than watch movies." 

Actor, producer, and director Henares, who says he also doesn't know what's affecting the industry, offers three possible explanations on his own Facebook page. First, he says, "Most Pinoys who watch Pinoy films are from the C and D socioeconomic class. But movies are upwards of P250 these days, resulting in the average Pinoy moviegoer watching a whopping two films a year." He explains this is why the Metro Manila Film Festival (MMFF) is a big deal, "because it's usually that one other time a Pinoy will go and watch a movie."

He also says that "Hollywood really is the juggernaut." He lists the five highest-grossing movies in the Philippines—Avengers: Infinity War, Beauty and the Beast, Captain America: Civil War, Iron Man 3, and Avengers: Age of Ultron. "I think Vice Ganda's [The Super Parental Guardians] is somewhere in the top 10, but that's about it. Back in the day, you could pit a Ramon Revilla film head to head against a Clint Eastwood movie. Economies of scale just doesn't allow that anymore."

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Like Matti, Henares also thinks streaming services have something to do with it. "Why go out, brave traffic, pay for parking and buy popcorn and drinks, spending at least P500 for the whole ordeal when you can just stay home and binge-watch six episodes of You, paying the same amount per month?" He adds that streaming has also affected "going-out habits in general," asking, "Have you noticed that the Superclubs aren't doing as well?"

Henares offers suggestions about what the government can do to help, such as not taxing movies twice. "Studios pay amusement tax and then VAT, so a movie has to make [three times] its cost to break even." On top of this, he also brings up how films premiere on Wednesdays to promote attendance on weekdays. "Good for the cinemas, not good for Pinoy films because they're the ones who are usually taken out/given a sliding schedule by the weekend. And if Hollywood doesn't adhere to that rule in the interest of worldwide premieres, why should local cinema?"

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Henares ends his post by saying that there isn't much to do, except watch Pinoy movies. "But do yourself a favor and go out to watch a Pinoy movie. I just saw Joel Ferrer's Elise, and am still going to chase Miko Livelo's 'Tol through the microcinemas," he says. "I'll even go and watch Bato...no, wait that's going too far."

This story originally appeared on Spot.ph.

* Minor edits have been made by the Esquiremag.ph editors.

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